Saints slam six past Shawlands
WHILE Joseph’s FP were securing the points necessary to secure the Scottish Amateur Football League Premier Division title with a 3-1 win over Campbeltown Pupils in Duntocher, Oban Saints did their best to keep the pressure on the champions- elect with an emphatic 6 - 1 win over the league’s other former pupils, Shawlands, at Lochinch.
With several players missing from the previous Saturday’s Jimmy Marshall Trophy quarter-final squad Saints manager Alex Craik named an unfamiliar starting line-up giving a first starting role to Kerr Newbigging and handing the captain’s arm band to Ross Maitland.
Saints made a lightning quick start catching Shawlands cold to open the scoring inside the first minute. A long ball from Willie Gemmell was beautifully taken down by Craig MacEwan and played diagonally across to Ross Maitland cutting in from the right who tucked it away low past keeper Scott McSharry’s right hand.
With their tails up Saints pushed forward looking for a second. Kerr Newbigging fed the overlapping Matthew Kelly on the right who was hauled down by Leyton Slack. Ross Maitland’s free-kick was pulled down at the back post by Kerr Newbigging and played back across goal looking for Paul Carmichael but Paul McGowan made an important interception and cleared the danger.
Matthew Kelly burst forward again in the seventh minute linking up on the right with Ross Maitland who was fractionally too heavy with his ball threaded into the box allowing Scott McSharry to come out and gather ahead of the Saints full back.
Shawlands weathered the early Saints storm and drew level from the corner flag in the 17th minute. Kevin Stewart’s long ball up the edge of the Saints box looking for Ross McDougall was headed behind by Willie Gemmell. Gavin McCracken’s corner kick from the right was met perfectly by Ross McDougall, who made a good run across Myles McAuley on the six-yard line to head high into the net giving Thomas McCulloch no chance.
Saints regained the lead five minutes later from the penalty spot after David McKay slid in from behind on Paul Carmichael. Willie Gemmell’s ball from the back sent Paul racing through the inside left channel pursued by David McKay. Paul Carmichael burst into the box with David McKay going through the back of him to get to the ball, leaving referee Pat O’Donnell any easy decision to point to the spot and put David McKay’s name in his notebook.
Craig MacEwan successfully converted the penalty kick sending Scott McSharry in the wrong direction.
The keeper fared better in the 23rd minute saving well at his near post after a driving run into the box from Scott Maitland.
Another run into the box from Brian Mackay on the end of a move involving Myles McAuley and Kerr Newbigging had the Shawlands keeper at full stretch. However Brian Mackay’s left foot shot across the keeper was a yard wide of his left hand post.
Two long Myles McAuley throw-ins from the left looking for the head of Paul Carmichael were comfortably dealt with by the Shawlands defence and a swift counter attack on the left saw Matthew Kelly penalised for pulling back Gavin McCracken. He, however, couldn’t replicate his excellent delivery for his side’s goal sending his free-kick into the Saints wall.
Willie Gemmell’s accurate long range passing from the back opened up the Shawlands defence again in the 40th minute sending Paul Carmichael spinning in behind Keiran McKay on the Saints left. Paul Carmichael hit the bye-line and sent a good cut back looking for Ross Maitland which was well intercepted by Jonathan Stephens.
Willie Gemmell’s 44th minute ball looking for the head of Carmichael was well won by David McKay launching a Shawlands counter attack which Brian Mackay eventually halted at the expense of a corner kick. Gavin McCracken’s delivery from the left was easily cut out at the front post by Kerr Newbigging before referee O’Donnell blew the half-time whistle.
Saints kicked off the second half playing up the slight slope and made the same blistering start as they had in the first half. Kerr Newbigging played the ball up the right for Ross Maitland, who won a throw-in off Leyton Slack. Ross Maitland found Craig MacEwan with his throw who make a driving run into the box and from 12 yards slammed an emphatic left-foot finish into the top corner past Scott McSharry’s right hand.
Kerr Newbigging played another good ball up the right wing in the 48th minute where Matthew Kelly won a corner kick off Jonathan Stephens.
Ross Maitland’s ball into the six-yard box was punched away by Scott McSharry but only as far as Kerr Newbigging who had his shot blocked five yards from goal by Paul McGowan.
The hosts had their first second-half foray up field in the 50th minute winning a free-kick on the edge of the centre circle.
The lofted ball from Jonathan Stephens looking for the head of Ross McDougall was well won by Matthew Kelly getting in front of the Shawlands Skipper to clear the danger.
Saints’ fourth goal came courtesy of an unfortunate 51-minute mix up in the home defence with Ross Maitland pouncing on a misplaced pass from Scott McSharry. Ross Maitland intercepted the pass intended for David McKay and rounded the stranded keeper before rolling the ball into the empty net.
Myles McAuley popped up in unfamiliar territory wide on Saints’ right in the 55th minute and delivered a deep back post cross which Craig MacEwan headed back across goal to Paul Carmichael who steered a leftfoot effort wide of target under pressure from David McKay.
Kerr Newbigging continued to pick the passes from midfield and sent another good ball up the right wing for Paul Carmichael, who beat Jonathan Stephens to get his cross away and won a corner kick when Keiran McKay headed behind. Scott McSharry came through a ruck of players to punch clear but once again couldn’t get any distance on his punch which returned by an overhead kick from David McArthur. His effort looped high into the air with Scott McSharry recovering to clutch the ball under pressure from Paul Carmichael.
Saints made it 5-1 with 30 minutes still to play. Myles McAuley made a powerful run through the midfield before laying off to Brian Mackay who was upended 22 yards from goal by David McKay. Willie Gemmell lifted his free-kick, from slightly right of centre, expertly over the four-man Shawlands wall and over the flailing arms of Scott McSharry and just under the crossbar.
Both sides made changes before the re-start. Martin Bonar replaced Scott Maitland at left back for Saints and Shawlands withdrew Gary Irwin and Kevin Stewart in favour of Scott Mad- den and Gary Douglas.
Saints threatened to break through once more with David McArthur slightly too heavy with a long ball to send Craig MacEwan in behind and David McKay making a vital interception to deny Paul Carmichael after a surging run and lay- off from Brian Mackay.
With 15 minutes remaining Saints manager Alex Craik made his final change bringing a good shift on his starting debut from Kerr Newbigging to an end replacing him with Fraser MacFarlane. Paul Carmichael dropped back into midfield allowing Fraser MacFarlane to join Ross Maitland and Craig MacEwan up front.
He was almost in on goal within a minute of joining the action but Craig MacEwan and Brian Mackay over elaborated in the build up allowing Jonathan Stephens to stab out a toe and divert the ball away from Fraser MacFarlane.
Despite being outplayed for long periods Shawlands never gave up but were unable to get the better of a firmly-in- control Saints back four. Mark Watt’s deep cross from the right in the 76th minute found Ross McDougall at the back post but the well-positioned Mr O’Donnell, who had an excellent game, correctly ruled that the Shawlands skipper had strayed offside. Mark Watt then sent a speculative effort from 28 yards high over Thomas McCulloch’s crossbar. Martin Bonar pushing forward on the left won an 81st-minute corner kick with David McKay head- ing Ross Maitland’s in-swinger clear at the near post. Brian Mackay was first to the loose ball and tee’d it up perfectly for Matthew Kelly 25 yards out. He rattled the Shawlands crossbar with a sweetly struck shot which left Scott McSharry firmly rooted to the spot.
Saints rounded off the scoring with seven minutes remaining when skipper Ross Maitland threaded a ball through for Brian Mackay, who outpaced Leyton Slack and slotted the ball right-footed past the advancing Scott McSharry for Saints’ sixth goal of the afternoon.
There was still time for Scott McSharry in the Shawlands goal to produce the save of the match to deny Ross Maitland a hat-trick. David McArthur pushed forward to join the attack and set up Ross Maitland who arrowed a shot towards the top corner which Scott McSharry, at full stretch, somehow managed to finger tip over the crossbar.
Mr O’Donnell brought proceedings to an end after three added minutes before the news filtered through from William Street that St Joseph’s FP had beaten a depleted Campbeltown Pupils side to clinch a second Premier Division title in three seasons. Saints still have six league fixtures beginning on Saturday with a visit to Glencruitten of Goldenhill before the Jimmy Marshall Trophy semi-final against Hillington the following weekend.
Saints had Shawlands under pressure for long periods in the game but this time Ross McDougall heads the ball clear. Match report and photos: Derek Black
Willie Gemmell lifts a superb free kick over the Shawlands’ wall to net Saints’ fi fth goal.
Saints skipper Ross Maitland is congratulated by his teammates after opening the scoring against Shawlands in the first minute.
Saints’ new signing Kerr Newbigging and Shawlands’ Paul McGowan in action. This was Kerr’s first start of the season and he must have impressed the manager with an excellent performance in midfield.